An Unbearable Burden

The week before Christmas, children swarmed the giant toy playland under the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, mesmerized themselves watching a mechanical Santa behind glass and piled up outside the windows of the fudge factory inside Crown Center. At the Hallmark Gold Crown store, though, a few 6-inch plastic teddy bears sat forlornly on the discount table.

Trained Bear (decorated like a black locomotive), Bearymore of Broadway (a purple bear with stars, dressed in a cape and top hat), Wind Up Tin Toy Teddy (a little drummer boy), and Tin Bear (as if there could ever be another Tin Man!) were miniature replicas of the 6-foot fiberglass monstrosities that invaded Kansas City last summer. Most of those big bears had long been removed — though a couple dozen were still pleading for buyers on an Internet auction to benefit the Toy and Miniature Museum and Children’s Mercy Hospital; the second round of holiday bears was set to go up for bids on January 6. Meanwhile their little likenesses were exiled to the land of misfit toys, marked down from a prestigious $16 to a sad $4.

“Nobody wants us,” Tin Bear squeaked.

“Shut your can!” Trained Bear huffed back at him. “Nobody will buy us if they think we’re desperate.”

“But we are desperate!” piped in Wind Up Tin Toy Teddy. “We’re on the sale table!”

Wind Up Tin Toy Teddy was lucky. Two days after Christmas, as families on holiday break filled Crown Center, the Hallmark store’s shelves were bare, waiting to be filled with Easter cards. Wind Up Tin Toy Teddy was gone, but Tin Bear and a few Trained Bears had been shoved farther into a corner of the “Reduced” table.

“We’re headed for the landfill,” Tin Bear groaned. “We’ll get buried under tons of Kansas City’s garbage.” Tin Bear started crying.

“Aw, be quiet,” Trained Bear snorted.

Tin Bear pulled himself together. “I hope those humans have learned something,” he said. “If I had one wish in the world, it would be that someone out there in Charity Land would make a resolution for 2003: No more bad fiberglass ‘art’ projects!

Tin Toy Teddy put on his best smile when a couple of tourists from Topeka stopped by the table to pick up some half-off Christmas pillows. But no one even looked at him.

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